Call it a health insurance store or market instead of an exchange

I’m a health care expert who follows health reform closely, so when I’m confused about something I know most people are. When Massachusetts passed the universal coverage law in 2006 I didn’t understand exactly what the Connector was supposed to do. If they had called it a health insurance store or marketplace or comparison site I would have grasped the concept better. Once it’s explained it’s obvious, but why use the word “connector” in the first place?

The federal Affordable Care Act makes matters even worse. It calls these things health insurance “exchanges.” That word has the wrong connotations. When I hear the word “exchange” I think of a stock exchange. That’s not somewhere I go to buy or compare products or services to use. Others think of “exchange” as what they do when they made a purchase that was the wrong size or received a gift they didn’t like.

Even for health wonks that fully grasp the concept, the word “exchange” is confusing, because the term is also used in the context of health information exchanges, which are used to exchange clinical data. I often hear people asking about the impact of the “exchange” –without specifying “insurance exchange” or “information exchange,” and I have to ask them which they mean.

There’s a simple solution to this: let’s dump the word “exchange” and use a term that’s more understandable and appropriate. How about:

  • Store
  • Marketplace
  • Comparison site
  • Supermarket

4 thoughts on “Call it a health insurance store or market instead of an exchange”

  1. That must be why so many states have decided not to develop their own “exchange”, but are letting the Feds do it. They don’t know what the word exchange means. Once this is fully explained to Gov.Rick Perry, I know he’ll be all over it like white on rice.

  2. Confusing, cryptic terminology such as “exchanges” only serve to confuse people and make the reforms of the health care law that much more difficult to comprehend and understand. Many Americans are remain unaware of the specific changes that will be taking place in health care industry over the next few years. They might benefit from taking a look at a detailed timeline, such as this one:

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